Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Consulting firm plans top-level Hawaii meeting

KPMG Consulting Inc. plans to bring 300 of its top managers from Asia and the West Coast to Hawaii in September for a weeklong training session.

The company hopes it will become a regular event that facilitates personal Pacific Rim networking, said Paul Yonamine, executive vice president for Asia-Pacific, based in Tokyo.

If the session works as the company hopes it will, Hawaii will be considered as a permanent training base, said Yonamine, who ran KPMG Consulting in Hawaii before moving to broader responsibilities in Japan. For this year's session, 150 managers will come from Asia and 150 from the mainland.

KPMG Consulting, a 10,000-employee business based in Virginia, is no longer affiliated with the tax and audit firm KPMG LLP and is a separately traded corporation.

Ericsson to lay off 17,000, posts quarterly loss

STOCKHOLM, Sweden >> LM Ericsson shares plunged 24 percent today after the wireless equipment maker unexpectedly announced it was shedding up to 17,000 more jobs, about 20 percent of its work force.

The world's largest manufacturer of equipment for cell phone networks also reported a net loss of 2.97 billion kronor ($286 million) for the three months ended March 31, compared with a net profit of 424 million kronor for the same period last year.

"It's very much a matter of trying to sweat it out, trying to survive a very hard recession in this industry," new Chairman Michael Treschow said at a news conference that was telecast live by the national public broadcaster, Swedish TV.

The Stockholm-based company had earlier predicted that it would achieve an operating profit margin of 5 percent or better this year, but backed away from that today, saying it would lose money for a second straight year.

Shares closed at 27.3 kronor ($2.65) each on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, down 24 percent. The stock fell 80 cents to $2.74 on the Nasdaq.

Gas prices drop slightly amid foreign tensions

CAMARILLO, Calif. >> Gasoline prices edged down more than half a cent in the past two weeks despite tensions in two major producers, Iraq and Venezuela.

Friday's weighted price per gallon for all grades and taxes was about $1.46, according to the Lundberg survey of 8,000 gas stations nationwide.

The decrease -- the first since Feb. 8 -- could be a sign that gasoline prices, which generally spike during the summer months, may have peaked, said analyst Trilby Lundberg.

Lundberg said the gasoline price hikes have been stalled despite "dramatic headlines" out of Iraq and Venezuela, which jointly export about 4.5 million barrels a day.

Iraq stopped all oil exports on April 8 in an attempt to force Israel to withdraw its troops from the West Bank. Venezuela's largest business and labor groups called a general strike in early April to support an oil workers' protest against bosses appointed by the president, virtually choking production.

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